Culture Responsibility Society

Spanish Solidarity

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I would like express my solidarity with and condolences to the people in Spain whose lives were ripped apart by this week’s devastating and unconscionable bombing.

But, watching Spaniards fill Madrid streets with grieving and protest elicits great regret. Americans acted more like victims following the 9-11 attacks that felled both World Trade Center towers. Rather than outrage, Americans withdrew—from traveling, spending, and living. Raised fingers looked to blame everyone but ourselves.  Read More

Aspiration Culture Living Science

The Odds on God’s Existence

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A story in today’s Guardian says the odds favor God’s existence. The three writers cite work by Dr. Stephen Unwin, who used a 200-year-old formula used to “work out the likelihood of events” to determine with 67 percent probability that God exists. Yesterday my wife saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ“. She’s a believer. Hell, I am, too. (Yeah, use of hell there is supposed to be wry, dry humor.)

Apple Digital Lifestyle Gear Music

iPod Zombies of New York?

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My buddy Jim Dalrymple told me about the so-called iPod zombies of New York. He’d read a post somewhere about how so many New Yorkers used iPods that the streets had become a sea of white bobbing headphones—zombies floating along oblivious to all living things. So, on a trip to New York last week, he saw the horrid reality for himself; gasp, it’s true!

I’m headed to Manhattan this week on business and will see for myself if this iPod counterculture movement is for real. That’s counterculture as in counter to normal social interaction. Surely there’s a PhD for someone somewhere willing to write a thesis on the iPod’s growing social—excuse me, antisocial—effects on the streets of New York and elsewhere.

I hit the San Francisco streets last week, where I saw nothing like the so-called New York phenomenon. Plenty of people using PowerBooks were in view and that new downtown Apple Store was wall-to-wall people (how do you get to merchandise that’s five people deep—as in no degrees of separation).

Photo Credit: Brad Lindert

Humor Microsoft

Listen to the Trolls

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The tech sites are all abuzz about something called “Windows XP Reloaded”. Wild rumors have Microsoft releasing a Windows XP update later this year, ahead of successor Longhorn. Seems like some folks forget that Microsoft already had two Windows XP upgrades on tap for 2004: “Lone Star”, a new version for tablets/notebooks, and “Symphony”, for Media Center PCs.

Reloaded, lamely lifted from Martix Part Deux, is more an evangelism effort, as Microsoft attempts to convince the majority of people running older Windows versions they really belong with the minority running XP. We’ll see how that goes. But if Three Dead Trolls are right, “Every OS Sucks“.


A Switcher Confesses

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Last week, I bought Apple’s 15-inch PowerBook, marking my most-recent switch back to the Mac. The decision, nearly five years to the day after buying my first PowerBook, marked the final chapter in my back-and-forth switch between Macs and Windows. I’m a Mac user now, although Windows will remain vitally important for work.

My struggle ensued, in part, because of Microsoft’s success at creating, for non-Windows users, barriers to entry—to the Internet and key software categories. I also wobbled back and forth because of concerns using a Mac would hurt my work, first as a reporter and later an analyst covering Microsoft.  Read More

Apple Marketing Music

RIAA Taketh, and Pepsi Giveth Away

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The Pepsi ad promoting the big iTunes Music Store 100-million song giveaway debuts tomorrow during the Super Bowl. The spot [Editor: original link replaced] features 16 kids busted by music industry copyright cops for illegally downloading or trading tunes. The ad’s music bed is “I Fought the Law”, which artist I don’t recognize.

Plenty of rip-roaring versions are out there, from Bryan Adams, The Clash, Dead Kennedys, Stray Cats, and others. Oh, and the Bobby Fuller Four broke into the Top 10 with the song during the mid 1960s.  Read More

Blogging Fair Use Free Speech News Media Web

Whatever Happened to the Free Spirit that spawned the Modern Internet?

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This afternoon, I was reading a story about cancelled flights—more concerns about terrorist threats—over at MSNBC. The story included an interactive element that lets the reader try out being a baggage screener for two minutes. Beneath the interactive element, “Can You Spot The THREATS?” is this option: “License this Interactive for your Web site.” Clicking through leads to Rights Links (powered) by Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. The cost: $99 for a single Website. Yeah, you read that right. MSNBC is charging for that interactive element.

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Fair Use Music Rights

Let’s Eat at the Audio Lunchbox

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I discovered a cool, new music site today. I was looking around MusicMatch, which had profiled The Distillers album “Coral Fang.” I listened to the songs first on MusicMatch MX radio; some rad punk. So I checked out the band’s homepage where there was a post about The Distillers going digital, with songs for sale over at Audio Lunchbox.

Audo Lunchbox is a legal download site hawking indie music. Lots of it, and stuff you’d buy from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (that means rights protection) or one of those Windows Media Audio outfits like MusicMatch (that also means rights protection). The problem with the rights-protected (a.k.a. digital rights management) stuff isn’t the restriction on playback (three PC cap for most music) but the compatibility. Apple’s music format and WMA aren’t compatible. The songs usually won’t play in the same media player or portable music player.  Read More


Windows XP: Game Over

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If you’ve got kids, kids’ games and Windows XP, you’ve problems. You see, Microsoft appears to have ignored an entire category of software during Windows XP compatibility testing: Educational and edutainment software for kids. If you have a closet full of hand-me-down games for that four or five year-old previously used by an older sibling, plan on turning many of them into coffee coasters.

Windows XP may have been on the market for more than two years, but plenty of kids games won’t work well or run at all on the operating system. If your kids have a beloved game for which there is no new version and you’re thinking about getting a shiny, new Windows XP PC, plan on keeping that older Windows machine around for awhile.  Read More

Digital Lifestyle

Lucky Brats!

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What’s the best remedy for snowbound kids! WebCams! Sunday’s snow socked in Washington, keeping my daughter and her friends down the road from getting together for play. Sure, she did the snowplay thing, but that gets old fast on a street without hills for sledding.

So, I pulled out a Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 WebCam, which my daughter hooked up with her friend across town. Trouble at first as her friend had an iBook and iSight. The two tried to WebCam on MSN, but the Mac version doesn’t do videoconferencing. My daughter’s friend eventually got on her dad’s PC, and the two have been camming it up for the past two hours.

Damn, when I was nine years old and snowbound, we sat around shivering and playing cards. Lucky brats.